Molnar: Fermenting in Vermont

Oct 9, 2015

“Sorry I didn’t call back,” I was telling a Manhattan friend. “I spent the whole day at the Fermentation Festival at Green Mountain College.”

Then I went on to explain that I must now take care of the fermented “mother” I brought home from the workshop. “She” may die unless moved to the proper medium immediately. So I must brew some special tea, cool it to 70 degrees, and pour the “mother” into the new medium, where she will spend a couple of weeks producing daughters, which I will then use to make kombucha tea.

After a long moment of silence, she told me about spending the day at a concert and lecture at the Metropolitan Museum. She showed no interest at all in my kombucha project.

It was then I realized just how odd my activities must sound to my old friends, who don’t realize how living in Vermont for the past eight years has changed me.

In the beginning, I thought my husband and I would miss the cultural offerings of New York and would be forced to rush back for regular life-sustaining infusions. And for a while, that did happen.

But as we met people and became involved in our community, we began attending and participating in a variety of happenings that would also seem odd to my urban friends: an unknown number of shows for unknown artists, ice fishing derbies, Shakespeare on Main Street, contra and square dancing, workshops on apple-tree pruning, birch-syrup making and root basket weaving. A recent Farm to Ballet event was performed in a field and featured dancers as farm animals and vegetables.

I embrace these activities because they all involve people I know and like, because they’re entertaining and informative, and because I always know someone on the stage, in the workshop, or among the viewers. I also know something about the effort and commitment it took to bring an idea to fruition, from the dancer who holds two jobs and made the long drives to rehearsals to the artist who used up 300 pencils in his quest to create a new paradigm.
It took a little time for Vermont’s appeal to ferment into something deeper – an understanding that even more than the beauty around us, it’s the people that make a place home.

And since I now grow much of our own food, I have enormous admiration for the farmers who can’t just run to the market when their tomatoes develop blight. So I found the farm-themed ballet endearing.